a brief reflection on the disease known as Brexit, by Martin Hayes

28 cows in a field
in which 1 of the cows has contracted
multiple cell dysfunction order.

Like what can happen in a failed experiment.

Like what can happen to anything
caught on the sticky peripheries
of a spider web.

Like what can happen in a disconnected blender
that comes alive while your fingers are still inside
trying to clean away the unwanted pulp
from its rotors.

Or when you run your finger hard
over a cracked mirror
above an old milk bottle;
the hordes of bacteria having gathered
at the summit of the congealed shoulder-blade-shape of what’s left
charging, blood-stained now
up and down the shallows of the host’s spinal fluid,
the network of significant afterthoughts
and hindsights,
confused as a rat in an upturned bucket.

The signs of this cellular dysfunction are:
a little blood appearing at the nostrils
on a warm August evening
while watching paint dry,
weeping sores
appearing on the outsides of both sexes’ reproductive organs
like used stamps stuck down again
with a lost generation of pus,
a tsetse settling on the frothy tip of a tornado-swirl
in the centre of a cup of tea
seconds after it has finished being stirred,
the unpredictable dislocations of hitherto needed utensils
such as toes, fingers and the intellect
so that they dangle uselessly from their owner’s bodies
while standing in a queue in a busy supermarket
and the sudden unannounced popping out of eyes
from the warm beds of their sockets
like a leg or foot dangling out of a duvet on a cold night
about to be mauled or bitten off
by the conjuring of the imagination.

And the final prognosis is:
this upsurge in white blood cells
stimulated by the Munchausen by Proxy infection
will further prolong the inevitable
by trying to protect the dead host
from dying even further.

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The Deserter, by David Chorlton

A lost soldier stops at a well
and listens to a stone
falling through the long shadow
to its dry bottom. The crackling
of rifle fire continues in the distance
but he cannot tell who is shooting
or who is dying. He takes the star
from his uniform and throws it

away into the trees
where it continues flying
in circles with its silver edges shining.
When he unbuckles his belt
it slithers off into the undergrowth,
and the passbook he pulls
from his pocket

takes off from his hand.
He lays down his gun and it disassembles itself.
He loosens his coat
and an owl flies out of its lining.
When the soldier lies down to sleep
nothing can wake him,
neither deer
nor the fox that licks the salt
from his brow

where dreams open their colored wings
around the fire in his brain.

The Executioner’s Breakfast, by David Chorlton

When the razor slides
along a leather strap
the wife knows it is time
to heat water for her husband’s coffee.

While he spits foam
after brushing his teeth
she halves the grapefruit
and slips a blade
between its sections.

She sets two eggs
to boil, listens to the clatter
of hangers falling in the closet
where he fumbles for a shirt,
and gives him the three minutes
he always takes to shine

his shoes before plugging in
the toaster and pushing the lever.
When he sits down
with after-shave scenting his cheeks
she bends for a kiss

and asks him if there is anything
he needs, if he has
any last wish before
he leaves her to wash the dishes.

..

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

Triumphal Return, by David Chorlton

The exiled dictators
stir their martinis
in the tropical shade
while they wait
for their time to come around again.
They open their mail
hoping for a signal

to put on their dark glasses
and return to the palace balconies
above the crowd
in their apartments with a view

across another country
they rehearse the speeches they will give
and accept the window’s applause.
Portly now
after years of inactivity
they plan to diet
for when their moment comes

and they stand before the people
promising a future like the past.
They will enjoy a long shower,
shave, pull a clean shirt from the closet,
brush their teeth, set their watches
and keep adjusting their ties

until the moment
the curtain is drawn
and they appear like nervous bridegrooms
when there is no turning back.
Their sources say
the day will be soon,

they need only have patience
and a maid
who does her job well. Everything depends
on her; the shoes must shine
like mirrors of death.

A Prayer for Pennsylvania, by Marissa Glover

Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

 

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be the nameless & unnamed
Give us this day our daily news—
decades of abusers now accused
Deliver us from evil

I do not forgive priests who hurt little children

No matter how much they confess
or kneel or swish with holy water
No matter how many catechisms
or pilgrimages or prayers to the Virgin

I do not forgive pedophiles
or those who look the other way

They can drink the communion cup
until their bladder fills, explodes the prostate—
stuff their mouth with wafers, white as chastity

They can choke on this spotless body
rendered for them, offered for healing
of sickness and removal of sins

May they aspirate halfway through
their Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned
both the confessor and the falsely penitent

Then let them burn
Let them burn

Amen.

 

This poem was first published at Poetry 24 in August 2018.

Marissa Glover teaches and writes in central Florida, where she spends most of her time sweating. Her poetry has appeared in UK journals such as AmaryllisPicaroon PoetrySolstice SoundsPoetry24Bonnie’s CrewClear Poetry, I Am Not a Silent Poet, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Follow her on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.

The Shrub, by Jim Hanson

Tell me, O Shrub, of your odyssey on earth
the home that nurtured all life yet known
the crucible that molded sentient beings
the home of glorious deeds by my own species
and of such pitiable existence as your own here
in the barren soil of parched mesas and plateaus
broken into eroded caverns and ravines and
pummeled by crumbling mountains once majestic yet
survived by you in this unforgiving land of
beauty forbidden and power indifferent.

Oh, I have much to tell as the wretched refuse
of mountain deserts worn down by wind and heat
starved and stunted in arid land, eaten and trampled
by beasts hungry and huge, all surely ugly
and unworthy judged by your glorious deeds, but

I persevered through those eras of the
early Cambrian transition of life surviving on land
tectonic formations of Rodinia and Pangaea
great rain age, oxygen-less air and Snowball Earth
super volcanoes and massive asteroids, then

I evolved with the great dinosaurs and with them
grew more beautiful and mighty than flora now known
and survived the great extinction when dinosaurs fell
and survived by your species as scurrying rodents
your great forbears of mammalian might, then

I devolved in this Cenozoic era
eaten down by beasts and beaten down by their hooves
reduced from best to worst, from beautiful to ugly
made coarse and prickly and putrid in taste
to repulse the most greedy of your species, so

I lie here before you in my worn and weary state
a common weed ignored and sneered when looked upon
scorned as ugly and useless as the lowest species
and primitive remnant from a passed era and
bypassed oddity of the anthropocentric age, as

I see you having trod triumphant over this earth
(once hesitant with only weapons and tools of stone, then making bronze and iron,
devising machines, controlling energy and developing industry)
and now see you multiplying into the billions who
forage and slay uncounted plant and animal life
tear away the fabric of ecological systems
drain aquifers and rivers for rural farms and urban lawns
warm global air and life remains from millions of years
devise nuclear weapons threatening the greatest extinction.

I survive unneeded by you and needing nothing from you
dwelling in rock and sand away from industrial abuse
persevering through the age of this sixth extinction
outlasting eons before and after your perversions
moving and adapting as do the mountains and seas
rising and falling as the earth exhales and inhales
flowing back and forth with low and high tide, thus

I dare to presume the form and voice of your mentor as
Homer’s Athene whom you should obey gladly
to accept a covenant of peace with the earth that we share.

Time Ends, by Jim Hanson

Boomers die in tall buildings with small windows
fewer coming out than going in, coming out
with canes on good days, walkers on bad days
shuffling step by step into restaurants and stores
taking up space and time in the bustle of bodies.

Millennials now take their generational turn
swiping ipads and clicking icons of wonder
entering books of faces and looks of virtual places
media makings of texted logs and on-line blogs
and pop music with 1-5-4-1 chords to cheering hoards.

I make the world flat
Virtual for real
Internet for free
Digits for widgits
GPS for God

Their digits and dreams of futures soar through space
riding a vapor trail across the electromagnetic sky
circling ‘round the globe on a silicon disc
reducing the world to a Microsoft chip
transmitting genes through the motherboard.

I love you
Twitter me
Facebook friends
Circuits integrated
Family connectivity

Forget Yeats and old men who never sailed to the new Byzantium
who reminisce about old wars and generals, white movie stars and athletes,
good days of dancing in music halls, drinking beer for 25 cents,
working for four dollars an hour and two-week vacations a year,
old men who cough and die within the walls of small houses
nursed by old women left alone in houses called home
gone in their time, always the same.

But remember, Byzantium receded with its unpurged images
as will your postmodern day of unpurged icons
when data clouds disappear out beyond the Internet
and websites are condemned to the Wayback Machine.
Each generation of destiny folds back into history as
We all come and go in the Grand Hotel of dreams and schemes
true in our time, always the same.

All things begin to end and end to begin as
earth turns green and brown, sky turns blue and black
each in its time to regain green, yellow, and blue
the hues of time passing back to come forth again as
the tape rewinds to show evolving generations.
Nothing changes but history recycled
true in all time, always the same.

The River, by Jim Hanson

On a sunny day you walk along the Ohio’s shore
and feel the water lapping at your feet
the same water now as two centuries ago
(the same despite what Heraclitus said)
flowing tirelessly by this abandoned clearing
and where you see the residue of works once made by
pioneers of industry and believers of manifest destiny
moving commerce down the rivers of the heartland
riding upon the mercantile tide of world trade –
coal, iron, gold, timber, grain, the stuff of empires.

Walk beyond the clearing through the trees and
you see high up the bluff and down to the river’s edge
a sprawling elevator once powered by a steam engine
now rusted, slumped and twisted, pieces on the ground
larger than the ancient bones of a dinosaur
with its conveyor belt tailing unto the river
in its time a modern human machine
made to feed on world commerce then dreamt of.

In their day the steamboat queens ruled these rivers
their tall stacks emitting trails of smoke and soot
their whistles cheered at the docks of stripling ports
seeking civilization through the lanes of world commerce
a pig’s ear for the silk of Japan or tea of England
– as Fulton’s steamboats chugged in treacherous currents
starting in 1811 from Cincinnati to New Orleans
braving perilous times of explosive boilers and the
New Madrid quake causing the Mississippi to flow backward
ringing church bells in Boston where empire started (tea again)
– as the gunboats bombarded forts on rebelling shores
following Grant’s attack lines drawn on river maps
starting in 1861 from Cairo to New Orleans and Chattanooga
to restore the union and resume the westward empire
– as you now hear the horn of a modern tugboat and
low growling of its 27,000 horsepower diesel engine
pushing 12 barges loaded with shoes and hats from Italy,
machinery from Germany, computers and phones from China.

All seems tame as you see the sun set on the shore
of docks and boats and the water quietly passing
along channels crafted and engineered
by Army Corps dredges dikes dams and locks,
yet the power of the Ohio never changes
as a force of nature beyond human endeavor
sweeping away the shorelines of enterprise
and breaking down the lanes of river trade.

Yes, if you stop and sit by this river long enough
you will see the remnants of history float by
– pieces of docks and towns, shoreline schemes and dreams–
dislodged and vanished from the soil of the heartland
washed away to bob without anchor on the surface
made homeless and now floating away as before
into the ocean where all things drown and
dissolve into water (the same as Thales said).

The Survivors, by Jim Hanson

Look up. The Ik stand on high mountains formed long ago
as ghosts in shukas fluttering in the timeless wind
silent but for expressing survival now inhumane:`

motionless bodies of mountain stone
gaunt faces of frozen granite
eyes emptied of desire and hope
under a purple sky and falling sun.

In the valley below the RVs trek their way on
dusty trails back to city hotels and restaurants
tourists taking full view of the African zoo:

wild animals and vistas through iPhones
live adventures through Twitter and Skype
the thrill of hatari for tourist spenders
assuring IMF payments for global finance.

The Ik stand as once proud warriors and hunters who
roamed freely across plush savannas as lions and
kings of their domain, feasting upon game and feared by rivals.

They were then driven away like hyenas at a lion kill
out of the fertile valleys and nourishing waters
up into the purgatory of barren mountains.

They come down to hunt in darkness under police guns
hunted hunters risking life for meat and survival for
animals situated as cash assets as humans liquidated as liabilities.

They were exiled away to the waste land
up escarpments and into mountains dry
there to sit and starve without a cry, condemned to

trudge hard crags not fit for human feet
drink putrid water and eat parched grass
live among gaunt goats and acacia shrubs
exist in a land of stones and stick huts.

They lost all hold of their humanity
dreading death when dead already
civilization no longer in their reach:

declining to live as Rousseau’s noble savage
descending to instincts of the ignoble savage
deserting compassion and passion for living
debasing nobility and dignity.

Like the Ik, we are vulnerable and weak.
Fallen by calamity, what will we seek:
unchecked pollution of waste lands and global world laid flat by corporate hands
unreal cities glutted by populations swarming and flooded by oceans warming
unremitting international wars for dying and consumer whores for buying
unrepentant demagogues fooling people and billionaires ruling markets?

Damocles’ sword sways over our head
held just above by a slender thread
to fall and slice our humanity away
in just one day of world financial panic
global markets bleeding trillions of currencies
renew savages of Darwin’s descent of man.

Look again, the Ik still stand on high mountains
reminders of no life beginning and death ending
only stillness and silence, no sound of defiance.

How many, banished from human history to live untold misery
to walk the trail of tears as did refugees through the years?
We had not thought death had undone, so many.

 

Death of a kind, by Ananya S Guha

And then the floods
flooded my birth
my country, flooded my hands,
feet and legs.
Why the floods
helicopters will do for a visit
a peep into the birth place
of many for whom floods
don’t mean anything
only death of a kind.
..
Floods in Kerala?
Want a national debate in?
So that television channels
can articulate death traps
or politicians who want both
votes and floods?
..
There is in floods
the call of oceans
only the maestro seeks
in hope that the floods
will not destroy his city.
..
Death of a kind
one kind, floods
that are testimony
to a tsunami effect
and the dog that forewarned
it. Keep your hopes alive.

Manifesto, by Maggie Mackay

Every slave is a person

with a name, a story, a dream.

Elsa is a hostage exploited

to keep her parents in servitude. 

Kofi is forced to fish all day,

dive into danger, below fraught lake waters.

Benjamin spends his childhood making bricks.

They dream of school, of making friends,

of mums, dads, brothers and sisters under one roof.

Safe is a fairy-tale word, love a thing of magic. 

..

‘We have no slaves in Scotland…’ This was the conclusion of a 1687 case concerning a travelling showman and a performing gymnast he’d ‘acquired’. It was the first time a Scottish court had rejected slavery. Now, thanks to the work of Alan McLean QC, composer Tom Cunningham and novelist Alexander McCall Smith, the story has been turned into an operetta. Here, the creators discuss their project and explain why the story still matters today.

Tuned to Cicadas, by David Chorlton

Along the route we take to see
summer’s last cuckoo
a radio keeps company with the miles
of open country. There’s conflict
on the interstate, and arms
are being sold in all directions
even on the country road
that runs through hills made green
by August rains. The clouds today
are decoration, glowing at their edges
as they float without a care
that one country’s murderers
masquerade as a security force
and their trial has been staged to reassure
the people that they’re safe.
Ocotillo brush against
the sky, there’s a dip and a rise before
news of xenophobia
translated into yet
another language, and it makes us as sad
to hear it as glad somebody cares
enough to send reporters
to places that ceased
to be anyone’s home. Finally the trail
begins, away from traffic,
winding between mesquite
and Arizona sycamore
in dappled shade, vibrating
with the rattle from cicadas to a shrill
crescendo followed by
a sudden stop. There’s a woodpecker tap
in the quiet they leave
behind, and a towhee’s plaintive
note rising from
a rustle in the undergrowth.  Not a sound
can reach here from the war games
being played while half
a continent from them the real thing
continues every day.
She could be anywhere, the high limbs
or eye level, no longer calling now
the breeding season passed
and her work
is all preparing for migration. The body
is slender, the underbelly elegant,
and the tail won’t be mistaken
for any other bird’s. Another wave
of sound breaks from the cicadas, and it takes
only seconds for the years
to part and let the memory through
of seeing one the first time.
Then a long shape glides
in and out of sunlight, and takes hold
of the world by a slim branch
on an ash tree. And the cicadas send
another wave through the warm afternoon
of stained glass singing,
the kind of loud that’s peaceful.

..

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

After not taking meds, by Abegail Morley

In the distance myself dithers in a separate darkness,
I squint and there she is, squatting in accustomed corners,
palms grazing walls simultaneously, touching

self-made scars. I let them do it, embrace coldness,
uncoloured skies. I should name my mood-swings
as if they’re storms, Met Office’s first this year closed

every school on the Western Isles. I went home early
warned by strong currents circling my brain. Last night
I knew it heaved itself from borders, quickened

with wasps burning around my head as if they knew
I was short-circuiting, wings searing hair till I woke
from a dream of black cliffs, starved skin, a drenched

mouth falling and rising. I look at last year’s crop,
drunken bees dallying around my body, wading until tired
legs stop. I can lie to you in stages like I do now

picking sloes from the ceiling of my bedroom, waiting
for fermentation to turn thick-skinned fruit to garnet.
I can lie for only so long. Only for so well.
..

Abegail Morley’s fourth collection, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches Press (2016). Her debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (2010) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. She has two pamphlets published by Indigo Dreams and is co-editor of Against the Grain Press and editor of The Poetry Shed.

Pointless appointment, by Abegail Morley

I listen to the GP and my childish voice
clambers to my throat, stands on the stump
of tongue, leans far back as if it owns
the space. My mouth’s a narrow bed,
the weight of bodies turning
in their sleep dig grooves deep as ditches
or open graves. I’m riddled with the fact
they discharged you to some dead-end
village, let your skin crumple like tissue
on that first night home. We didn’t know
we could have saved you. I have your absence
folded in half like a magazine, wait
to unwrap you in multi-coloured splendour.
He talks about blood pressure,
medication, not how you died last month
running off the cliff as if your bones
could find shelter stacked in the sea.

The letter from the follow-up team, by Abegail Morley

arrives the day after your funeral, after
I’ve listened to Sleepers Wake, Liza’s eulogy,
the lost sobs of little boys. My mind
stutters on letters’ kerning, studies how words
lean as if to hold themselves up. There’s no date.
I take this as laziness. It’s been four weeks since
you lay green-yellow in ICU, air sacs drowning
lungs, sepsis road-mapping itself through veins.

He has achieved success who has lived well

I’d stopped listening, tuned into the boys
two rows behind, heard tissue’s soft twist,
felt the smart of startled breaths rupture
young throats. Two weeks ago you and I sat side-
by-side eating fish pie staring at the garden.
You ate sporting a navy fleece and striped
pyjama bottoms which made me laugh.

Whose life was an inspiration; whose memory 

Right now, I don’t know that the letter from your
care team will come too late. Right now, I don’t know
that maybe neither of us would have needed to go
to that cliff. I read about ICU patients in your letter
they sent too late, how they suffer hallucinations,
confusion, nightmares after they’ve gone home.
I haven’t said much, have I? Now I’m speechless.

The Saints are Full of Holes, by Bobby Parker

Delicate, goofy and sweet;
we must never know the truth.
The mind is pretty ruthless when it comes down to it.
This morning, first thing Katy tells me
is they caught the Golden State Killer.
Damn,
I will never be a hot fireman.
Although one time
I pretended I was the sexiest dad
at the school gates,
stud to sleepy mothers,
hero to hunchbacked fathers,
my daughter’s teacher catching her breath as I adjusted
the kink in my boxer shorts.
In dreams, you’re greatly rewarded
for outstanding services
to depression. My neck of the woods.
When your future feels like
a picture of a mailbox
sinking into a river of lava
as blue flames dance
toward the power station
it might be time to reconsider
the outrageous demands you make
on your cherry-picked gods.
Many people are made of bad sex and weird soup.
Racism.
Power Rangers Death Curse.
Spontaneous Human Combustion.
These are just a few examples.
Your loved ones have done bizarre and terrible things,
most of us have, why does this bother you?
We are made for screaming.
I’ve been through so many bodies,
this one doesn’t deserve a Knickerbocker Glory.
The binman says our bones
are covered with the most
god-awful jokes.
The demon in the corner of our garden
is currently disguised
as an oblong, flesh-coloured rock.
When its smooth face is shiny with rain
and the cats are burying shit
behind the daffodils, it speaks to me, telepathically,
about the problem.
What problem? I ask, and it sneers:
You know!
Trying to live
beyond the skin
is impossible.
A chilly house means glorious nipples,
I pinch them until they fizzle,
for distraction.
As a boy, I believed that to be in a relationship
or to fuck or be fucked by someone
you needed to be truly special.
How wholesome and pathetic.
I thought I saw a ghost in the public toilets
in the shopping centre the other day
but when I checked the cubicles
all I found was a skinny boy with curly hair
and hope in his big brown eyes
as a much older man at the sink
washed his hands
very slowly
despite the steaming hot water
turning his skin bright red.
Meanwhile, our kitchen sink is blocked
with cat food, teabags and cigarette butts
and instead of scooping it out
I run the taps on full power,
splashing the front of my shirt,
and use my finger
to smoosh the horrid mess
down the drain.
This is important, it happens forever: the smooshing.
When your marriage fell apart
you travelled the country with a sadness so pure
it swept through you like storm-scented rain.
The world was glitter on your arms.
The dead wore fancy hats.
Everybody’s house
was falling down
so it didn’t matter.
Sometimes we don’t laugh properly for days,
this hurts
more than I thought it would.
What have you sacrificed?
I believe you know
you made the right decision
when you feel peace.
Or is there something more sinister
at work? Tell me, is grandad still shrieking
at empty spaces on the other side?
Is he kind to nanny?
Does their part of Heaven
smell like soap and fresh carnations?
Maybe that’s ketchup on your hands
so you can stop worrying.
Unfortunately, doctors have the best shit, and they never
fully explain the cost.
It’s important to deny yourself
your favourite things
and mirrors are pure evil
I don’t care what your therapist says.
I’m chasing the perfect autumn.

The President, by Michael Peck

thin-skinned with sharp edges
he stands his hair an artificial Flame
his lips bleeding
eyes wide
glaring with fear
that he may not receive
his inflated share
power Trump’s intelligence
force Trumps compromise
anger Trump’s outside consideration
he is the leader of the most powerful Nation
flexing his muscles of dominance
as others flee his grip
he never wonders
how he will rule an empty room

If you’ve been gassed, by Spangle McQueen

This will not be brutal
but
if you’ve been gassed
you may experience
burning
in your eyes, nose, mouth
and skin.
You may experience
blurring
of your vision.

This will not be brutal
but
if you’ve been gassed
you may experience
breathing
difficulties and
coughing.
You may experience
raging feelings
from pepper spray
exposure.

Intense anger is a common response.

This will not be brutal
but
if you’ve been gassed
you may experience
confusion, disorientation
and panic.
But do not panic.
The effects of tear gas and pepper spray
are temporary,
not life-threatening
unless you’re vulnerable –
a child
or elderly
or immunocompromised.
If you’re pregnant
you may be at risk of spontaneous abortion.
If you’re a nursing mother
you may be at risk of passing toxins
onto your infant.
Contact lenses may fuse to eyes
And cause blindness.

But this will not be brutal.

You may wish to avoid being gassed.
But please be aware
Police abuse is unpredictable
and avoidance is not always possible.

If you are at risk of being gassed
a gas mask might be best
but please be aware
tho’ gas masks work best
they can look intimidating
and make us targets of police
violence.

So, think carefully about your
impact on others
when you decide how to protect yourself.
And remember
this will not be brutal.

Wedding Dresses at the Seafront, by Angela Readman

Only sunshine allows you to consider some things.
A bright morning, and it’s possible not to look away.
People walk their dogs at the corniche, rollerblade past
vendors selling soda from silver carts, and you glance.
It feels safe enough, the sea is a thin blue line. Old ladies
settle on cement benches to soak in the sun, a slow release
of days. Wedding after wedding dress hang above their heads,
…………………………………………………………………………………strung
from wires. Boys cycle past and underskirts balloon, quiet
as children in doorways deciding whether to join
an impossible dance. The day seeps through chiffon
swelling like jellyfish washed ashore on a surge.
It could almost be beautiful, if you close your eyes, so much
white lace, all those women sitting on concrete looking up.

..

In 2017 Lebanese women hung wedding dresses by the shore to protest a law
which allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims.

..

Angela Readman’s poems have been published in numerous journals and have won the Mslexia Competition and The Charles Causey. Her collection The Book of Tides is published by Nine Arches.

Dixiana, by Austin Davis

With my hands on my hips
and my right leg perched on a rock,
I piss off a cliff into the woods.
There’s something so simple

about letting the worst parts of yourself
grow into something new,
that in this moment, all the injustice
in our world briefly leaves my thoughts.

The image of migrant children
being kicked awake and beaten at the border,
nostalgic of the fetus like lizards afraid to lose
their summer skin doesn’t even cross my mind.

I don’t think about how the ICE
made girls strip naked before showering
or how they were forced to drink toilet water
and eat raw meat, and I certainly don’t think about

Dixiana, the 10 year old girl who’s tired eyes
began to resemble the chain link cage
she was forced inside. I just stand as the wind licks
my back, arguing with the leaves as it pushes its way

through the pine trees. The rain begins to fall
and I begin to cry as I zip up my jeans,
considering for a second what it would
feel like to forget my mother’s face.

..

Austin Davis is an award winning poet and spoken word artist from Mesa, Arizona. Austin’s poetry has been published in over 30 literary journals and magazines, both in print and online. Austin’s first chapbook, “The Moon and Her Ocean,” was published in March, 2017 by Fowlpox Press and “Cloudy Days, Still Nights,” Austin’s first full length collection of poetry, was published in May, 2018 from Moran Press.